Quebec has issued $45M in fines during the pandemic, but only a fraction of them have been paid
Since the start of the pandemic, Quebec has issued millions of dollars in tickets for public health violations, but only a fraction of them have actually been paid so far, according to provincial data.
From April 1, 2020 to Dec. 31, 2021, authorities have handed out a total of 30,488 tickets to citizens and businesses for not following measures under the Public Health Act.
Out of the $45,732,899 in tickets, Quebec’s Ministry of Justice told CTV News that $5.7 million has been collected so far as the vast majority of people who have been fined either ignored them or are challenging them in court.
Dylan Jones, a Montreal-based lawyer who has represented about a dozen people who have received fines for breaching the curfew and not respecting physical distancing, said he believes the high cost of the individual fines and growing opposition to health measures among part of the population has motivated people to fight the fines.
“That group is going to be probably much, much more likely to receive these types of tickets than the average citizen and … because they're so motivated to fight [they’re] much, much more likely to contest to, not pay, to ignore, to leave it because they don't believe in it. They think it's wrong. They think it's in violation of their rights. And so they're going to take it down the line,” he said in an interview Wednesday.
People who are issued a ticket have 30 days to enter a plea, but, as the data shows, a significant portion of people who were ticketed appear to have ignored them — a decision the justice ministry said could lead to further punishments.
About 41 per cent of people who didn't enter a plea within the legal timeframe will "likely" be sentenced by a judge to pay by default in their absence, according to Isabelle Boily, a spokesperson for the justice ministry. In those cases, the court will decide whether or not the defendant is guilty based on the evidence presented by the prosecutor.
The ministry spokesperson said 38 per cent of people who received a ticket have pleaded not guilty and their cases are still before the court.
While Jones said he suspects the province might be successful in recouping more of the $45 million in fines so far, he said it’s important to be mindful that “the wheels of justice grind slowly and I think that definitely applies” to these tickets.
"Even though it's been two years, we're pretty early on the court cycle of these tickets, but they obviously won't get all of the amounts of those tickets," he added.
Approximately 15 per cent of people pleaded guilty or paid the full fine without entering a plea within the required response time.
About six per cent of the fines issued are still within the legal 30-day limit for a plea to be entered.
TERREBONNE TAKES #2 SPOT FOR MOST TICKETS
The ministry data broke down the numbers by judicial districts across Quebec. It was no surprise that the Montreal district saw the highest number of fines issued within the 21-month period. Just under 11,200 tickets were issued to people since the start of the pandemic.
Remarkably, the judicial district of Terrebonne, which encompasses 58 municipalities, saw the second highest number of tickets issued to citizens and businesses since the start of the pandemic. With a census population of 601,990 people, the records show 2,750 fines were handed out.
In comparison, in the judicial district of Quebec City, home to the province’s second most populated city, police handed out 2,480 tickets. That’s less than Terrebonne, even though the census population in the Quebec City region is larger with 892,678 people.
Terrebonnne also has nearly three times the number of tickets issued than the Longueuil district — 989 tickets — even though it is similar in population size with 614,426 people.
A police officer, right, notes the identity of two men after 8 p.m. as a curfew begins in the province of Quebec to counter the spread of COVID-19 on Saturday, January 9, 2021 in Quebec City. A handful of demonstrators walked downtown to protest the curfew. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot
A police officer, right, notes the identity of two men after 8 p.m. as a curfew begins in the province of Quebec to counter the spread of COVID-19 on Saturday, January 9, 2021 in Quebec City. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot
Judicial districts in Laval and Gatineau were also among the regions that saw more than 1,000 fines in the first two years of the pandemic, with 1,455 tickets and 1,263 tickets issued, respectively.
British Columbia, by comparison, handed out far fewer tickets than Quebec. Authorities in that province issued 2,362 tickets totaling $1,630,700 in COVID fines between Aug. 21, 2020 and Jan. 14, 2022.
Quebec was the only jurisdiction in North America to impose a curfew during the pandemic, the first of which lasted nearly five months, from Jan. 9 to May 28, 2021. It was a measure that kept police officers in Quebec busy.
- Quebec police hand out more than 750 tickets during first weekend of the curfew
- 'We want our freedom': some young curfew dodgers in Quebec on their third or fourth ticket
In the month before the first curfew was introduced, Quebec Premier François Legault called on police to “crank up the number” of tickets to people caught violating the public health measures in place. At the time, he said he wanted to “send a clear message” to what he described as a small minority of Quebecers who were putting people at risk as daily cases of COVID-19 remained high.
LEGAL, FINANCIAL CONSEQUENCES
If citizens and businesses refuse to pay the fine within the required time period and are later found guilty, they could face financial penalties and even jail time
Cases of ignored tickets are handed over to the province’s Bureau des infractions et amende (BIA) to enforce the judgment if there’s a conviction.
“Following an assessment of the defendant's financial situation, the fine collector may agree to a payment agreement,” the Ministry of Justice spokesperson said.
If those attempts are unsuccessful, then the government can seize property or income to recover the money.
The collector may also issue a jail term “as a last resort,” although Jones said this sanction is extremely rare.
Montreal Top Stories
CTVNews.ca Top Stories
By now it's as predictable as the calls for thoughts and prayers: A mass shooting leaves many dead, and wild conspiracy theories and misinformation about the carnage soon follow. Within hours of Tuesday's school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, another rash began as internet users spread baseless claims about the man named as the gunman and his possible motives.
Canada is committing an extra $1 million to help the international community investigate sex crimes by Russian troops in Ukraine. Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly said Canada would give the extra funds to the International Criminal Court to help it investigate sexual violence toward women, and also crimes against children.
Conservative Party of Canada leadership hopefuls Scott Aitchison, Roman Baber, Patrick Brown, Jean Charest, Leslyn Lewis, and Pierre Poilievre squared off in the second official party debate on Wednesday night in Laval, Que.
Several parts of the country, including British Columbia and Canada's Maritime provinces, are likely to see wetter-than-normal conditions this summer, according to AccuWeather's annual summer forecast.
Tens of thousands of Ontario residents are facing another day without power as restoration efforts continue following last weekend's vicious storm.
Frustrated onlookers urged police officers to charge into the Texas elementary school where a gunman's rampage killed 19 children and two teachers, witnesses said Wednesday, as investigators worked to track the massacre that lasted upwards of 40 minutes and ended when the 18-year-old shooter was killed by a U.S. Border Patrol team.
Families are sharing photos and stories of their loved ones, who lost their lives in a mass shooting in Texas that killed at least 19 children and two adults on Tuesday afternoon.
During an appearance on ABC's Good Morning America on Wednesday, adopted siblings Hannah Raleigh of Chicago and Limia Ravart of Montreal met in person for the first time after an ancestry test confirmed the two are in fact related.
A fire in the neonatal unit of a hospital in Senegal has killed 11 newborns, President Macky Sall said. Only three infants could be saved.
Was your home damaged by the Ontario storm? Insurance companies say payouts could take weeks to process
The insurance industry says it could take up to six weeks to get an idea of how many hundreds of millions of dollars in pay outs will be required from the weekend storm that brought death and destruction to Ontario and Quebec, but that early estimates are substantial.
Police have released new video of a recent incident in which a vehicle was caught doing doughnuts and speeding along the shoulder of busy Ontario roadways.
People all across Ontario are getting creative when it comes to netting a secondary income, otherwise known as a “side hustle,” and many are turning to secondhand economies thriving on online platforms.
As the inquiry into Nova Scotia’s mass shooting moves its public proceedings to Truro, many of the family members affected by the tragedy and their lawyers are boycotting the proceedings over the next week.
Former Chief Anchor Steve Murphy offers a timely perspective on the Mass Casualty Commission and the difference 30 years after the Westray inquiry.
Speaking off-script at an event in Halifax Wednesday morning, Canada's Minister of Public Safety said he was gutted by the latest mass shooting south of the border - the 27th in a school this year alone.
Victoria Day weekend fireworks violations spark new effort to implement a ban.
Two men and one woman are facing charges Wednesday after police say their vehicle struck a London police cruiser and then the suspects fled the scene on foot over the weekend.
OPP and Southwest Middlesex fire are on the scene of a fatal collision Wednesday afternoon involving a tanker truck and a passenger vehicle.
Sault Ste. Marie city council is asking staff to prepare a report on group homes. This comes after Ward 1 Coun. Paul Christian brought forward concerns this week about two such homes.
There are currently a dozen statues at the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes property, and all are from the 1950s.
It’s a sign that summer is on the horizon. Farmers’ markets are opening in cities and towns across the north.
The City of Calgary has recruited three people from the commercial real-estate sector in an effort to get a new event centre to replace the aging Scotiabank Saddledome.
After a massacre at a Texas elementary school, some are looking into safety protections against gun violence in Calgary's school system while mental health experts are offering advice for difficult conversations about mass shootings.
Those who haven't received their bill by the first week of June are asked to contact 311.
New details are emerging about the tragic incident that killed 27-year-old Shelby Humble-Neale on Saturday.
Waterloo regional police say evidence of gunfire found in McLennan Park in Kitchener is connected to another shooting incident in the nearby area of Windflower Drive and Windflower Crescent.
Two 29-year-old men have been seriously injured following a collision in Baden, Ont., with one needing to be airlifted to a hospital outside the region.
The decision to focus on urgent and emergency health care to avert long waits played a key role in B.C.’s current primary care crisis, and the costlier care is compounding the problem.
A social media video that captures the moment a man gets Tasered by a Vancouver police officer is prompting calls for more training for police going out mental health calls.
A judge has refused to grant a B.C. cannabis company an injunction against a man who used a list of email addresses the company accidentally sent to all shareholders against it.
If you visit downtown Edmonton in the next 11 days, you might see some strange and unusual sights. Art installations and musical performances are popping up throughout the area as part of Downtown Spark.
Even though they cheer for opposite teams, a proposal by a Flames fan at Game 4 of the Battle of Alberta received a resounding "yes" from the Oilers-loving bride to be.
The body of a missing canoer has been located in northeast Alberta.
After a major tragedy, should parents wait for their children to express their feelings before talking about it?
Not having an answer to all of your child's questions about tragedies like the Texas school shooting is perfectly okay, according to a grief therapist with the Canadian Mental Health Association.
Helping students break down academic and social barriers, more Temi robots coming to St. Clair College
The Community Integration through Cooperative Education (CICE) program at St. Clair College received a $20,000 boost Wednesday morning.
Windsor police arrest final suspect sought in Forest Glade shooting, Major Crimes Unit continues investigation
Windsor police have arrested another suspect related to the shooting near a Forest Glade bowling alley in April.
'All it takes is one': Sask. RCMP partner with Washington police to publicize disappearance of Mekayla Bali
Saskatchewan RCMP and the Washington State Patrol announced a collaboration of efforts to locate Mekayla Bali, who was 16-years-old when she was last on April 12, 2016 in Yorkton.
A new art exhibit at the George Bothwell Library is hoping to examine and remove the feeling of shame associated with people who are deaf and hard of hearing.
For those looking to hop the border into Manitoba for their camping seasons, it started off on the wrong foot for Duck Mountain Provincial Park.
NEW THIS MORNING
NEW THIS MORNING | Here's what you need to know about the storm cleanup in Ottawa today
Hydro Ottawa is hoping to energize hydro lines in the Merivale Road area today, as the cleanup continues following last Saturday's devastating storm.
The president of Hydro Ottawa says "with a little bit of luck" power will be restored along the Merivale Road area on Thursday, bringing power to another 15,000 to 20,000 customers still in the dark following Saturday's storm.
The Ottawa Catholic School Board says all schools with power will be open on Thursday, but 14 schools without power will remain closed.
The Prime Minister toured the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization, which is working to develop a COVID-19 vaccine.
Saskatoon Police Service says that the use and presence of potent new synthetic opioids known as nitazenes are difficult to track and monitor.
A 48-year-old semi-truck driver was killed in in a rollover near Meadow Lake on Tuesday.